Politico: The aftermath – A new reality for President Obama

Politico  has my attention:

President Barack Obama and his aides have seen their political mortality.

Confronting the complexities and dangers of the Afghan escalation has ushered in a new, more grounded reality for a White House that has gotten far on Obama’s charm, congressional might and a campaign cockiness aides carried into the West Wing.

 That’s over. White House officials now are bracing for brutal months ahead, filled with second-guessing on the war plan and mounting casualties, along with deepening unemployment and a legislative slog on financial reform and climate change.

Through it all, the nation has seen the president confront a challenge that has split his party, divided him from his most loyal followers and left him no truly good choices. Here’s what we’ve learned from watching Obama and his team craft the policy and the speech that deepened U.S. involvement in Afghanistan:

 They are back to reality: The war debate, which played out during a bumpy stretch for this White House, has brought many aides back to earth. Nine meetings on the complexities and extreme dangers of this war will do that. Gone are the predictions of swift, transformational change, at least for energy and financial regulations. The political front is no better. They fully expect to lose seats in the House and probably in the Senate and can only hope for a political surge as they head into Obama’s reelection.

 “The biggest worry is that this becomes a political football,” a senior administration official said. “The concern is that you end up having to deal with constant attacks from the right and the left on this.”

More here.

Afghanistan: Moving Forward

It took the President 92 days to deliberate (former VP Dick  Cheney called it “dithering“) on which stratergy he would seek in the Afghanistan War.  A war the POTUS calls a “necessary war”.

A war of necessity“…in light of the fact that The Taliban and Al Queda’s presence in Afghanistan and particularly in Pakistan where there are nuclear weapons which could be compromised by those who seek to obtain nuclear weapons for use against “western Interests”, some might say that Obama is right.

This is the problem as I see it:

Escalating the Afghanistan War by sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan appears to be a necessary option because as Obama said in his speech, we will attempt to leave Afghanistan in about 19 months and we can’t leave it in chaos.  Leaving Afghanistan now will allow  the Taliban and Al Queda to regain power and more than likely aim it’s sights on invading Pakistan.  

At the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Dick Cheney, then the Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, literally cut and run in Afghanistan, causing the political chaos that fomented Al Queda and the consequences of their acts, such as the USS Cole Bombing, the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya, and the 9/11 attacks.

Let me be clear here, I am and always will be “anti-war”.   However, looking forward to what COULD happen if we just pull out now, I believe it’s an absolute necessity and we have no choice but to complete the mission sucessfully and then leave.

Huffington Post Summarizes Obama’s War Plan:

  • Obama plans to send 30,000 troops to the region over the next 6 months, with the first Marines arriving as early as Christmas. The BBC reports that the 30,000 troops will include 9,000 Marines and 21,000 soldiers. The deployment is much faster than originally planned.
  • Obama aims to achieve his objectives and begin withdrawing most troops within 3 years. There is no firm time-line for withdrawing all troops, administration officials said, and the pace of the pullback will depend on conditions on the ground.
  • Some U.S. troops would remain in the country for years as a “light footprint” in order to serve in a supporting role. This would be similar to previous U.S. efforts in Germany, Japan, and Bosnia, according to the New York Times.
  • The main mission of the new troops will be to “reverse Taliban gains and secure population centers” in the southern and eastern parts of the country, according to the AP.
  • American troops will pair with Afghan units in an effort to finally make progress in terms of building them into an independent security force. The BBC says 4,000 of the 21,000 regular soldiers will be assigned to train with these units. According to Marc Ambinder, the emphasis will now be on the quality of the security forces’ training, as opposed to the number of troops trained.
  • Obama’s exit strategy focuses on efforts to buildup Afghan forces so that they can take control of the country’s security. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that the Afghan army will grow by nearly 50 percent over the next year, from 90,000 to 134,000 troops.
  • The strategy against the Taliban, one official >told the New York Times, is to ‘degrade its ability’ so that Afghan forces have a chance of combating them, while also trying to lure away ‘less committed’ Taliban members with paid jobs in the local and national security forces.
  • Obama will make tougher demands on both Afghan and Pakistani governments. Robert Gibbs told Bloomberg that Obama had reiterated to Karzai that he must “provide security.” He will also be made to meet other benchmarks regarding such things as reducing government corruption — the Journal says this will include “establishment of anticorruption tribunals.” Aid will be tied to performance.
  • In addition to more U.S. troops, Obama will ask NATO allies to contribute between 5,000 and 10,000 more troops. NATO’s forces in Afghanistan currently number 40,000.

Obama addresses Cheney’s “dithering” charges:

Entire speech here.